The Transylvania Times -

The End Of Intimacy?


Last updated 7/27/2020 at 2:46pm

Intimacy has many facets. The COVID new normal has virtually banished one of them – social intimacy. What is that? It’s two good friends leaning over the lunch table to share a confidence; nudging your pew-mate when the choir sounds especially good – or bad; shaking hands and hugging.

We wear masks that hide our expressions. We “distance.” Impersonal. Touch-free. And it is killing us. Some in our midst may die of loneliness before we succumb to COVID.

I hear this is the new normal until we have a vaccine, next year if we’re lucky. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a year to spare. It angers me because it didn’t have to be this way. A failure of national leadership of epic proportions has thrust us into this prolonged parody of real life, and we are powerless to alter the course in the near term.

While grocery shopping in Ingles recently, I encountered two young men without masks. I pointed to mine. One responded, “It’s a free country, and besides, I have asthma.” Isn’t that all the more reason to wear one? Such colossal selfishness and ignorance are disheartening – and infuriating.

I counter these dark thoughts with a resolve to extract bits of joy from a shrunken world. For example, my next door neighbor in my new community, Connestee Falls, texted me early one recent morning about a big, black bear he spotted ambling down our street. It joins the many deer that roam freely, half tame, a constant delight. Happy moments can come from nature, from Netflix, from our pets.

But we as humans are social creatures. It is how we have evolved to survive. After this pandemic is over, many facets of life will probably never be the way they were. I choose to believe, though, that our emotional muscle memory will kick in. Social intimacy will be back by popular demand, with no time to spare.

Joyce Ryan



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